Fourth Sunday of Advent

Written on: December 22, 2018

This “week’s” reflection is from the President of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Sister Denise Roche. Our Christmas wishes are included as we sign off to celebrate the Birth of Jesus. We wish you good health, peace, love and joy now, and throughout the coming year! 

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us of two important kinds of relationships:  our relationship with God and with one another.  First we observe the relationship Mary had with God.  It describes Mary’s readiness to do whatever God asked of her, to put her life in God’s hands and to trust in God’s providence.  After being asked to accept the invitation to become the Mother of Jesus, a call that must have been very disconcerting for her, turning the young woman’s world upside down, she had given her “yes,” her “Ad sum.”  Today’s passage from Luke illustrates the second example of relationship, showing Mary’s eagerness to share her blessing and to care for her cousin Elizabeth.

We find Mary setting out to see and help her older cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant after believing that she and Zachariah would never have a child.  When Mary arrives, Mary and Elizabeth embrace and recognize that God has changed the direction of their lives in a way that astonished each of them.  Life would never be the same!  It had taken a new course for which neither of them was prepared.  Each of them, though, had confidence that God would guide them through this extra – ordinary time and, despite what others thought or said about them, God would provide.

Another beautiful part of their encounter is the fact that Jesus, although unborn at this meeting, was acknowledged as present. 

Mary knew about her child and Elizabeth proclaimed that her baby leapt in her womb when she heard Mary’s greeting.  It is a reminder to each of us that our encounters are not ours alone, but that Jesus, God-with-us, is present in each of them.  How easy it is to forget when we are angry or tired, or when we feel that we do not have the strength for one more person!  This time of year, with all its busy days and extra errands and encounters with people we rarely see or sometimes find difficult, wearies us.  If we remember that Jesus is present at every one of these encounters, we can believe that even the most casual or the most difficult can become a blessed occasion. The encounters we have with others remain the substance of the Christmas story, the faith that God is with us and that God is present whenever we recognize the dynamic influence of the Spirit in our presence or conversation with another.

Today’s gospel reading reminds us to go with haste to those we love or those who might want or need our presence.  It compels us to recognize that every one of our meetings, whether planned or by chance, gives us an opportunity to realize that God is present in us and in the other and, especially, in the encounter itself, whether words are spoken or not.  It is a gift of Christmas that can be part of our lives all year long.  It is a way to celebrate God-with-us, the mystery of Incarnation, not only at Christmas, but always.  It is a way to recognize that no encounter happens by chance, but each is an invitation from our Provident God.

Merry Christmas to all!

Photo Credit: Ben White/Unsplash

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